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Celebrations after U-turn on plans to make site available for housing
CAMPAIGNING residents and councillors are celebrating following a U-turn on plans to make a former allotments site available for housing.
At the latest full council meeting, four campaigners spoke and urged Basingstoke and Deane council leaders to reconsider plans to decommission the former allotments site in Lyford Road, South View, Basingstoke.
Local residents and Labour ward members have been calling on the Conservative-led administration to abandon proposals to put houses on the land and to return it to allotments – and to their surprise, and delight, the Tory portfolio holder agreed to support them.
Councillor John Izett, Cabinet member for property and finance, told the meeting: “It seems to me there’s a strong local wish to return the site to active allotments use.
“This administration wants to enable residents to enjoy this healthy activity, so I will recommend to Cabinet colleagues to return some, or all, of the land to allotments.”
Catharine Trustram Eve, who owns an allotment plot in nearby Burgess Road, spoke at the meeting, pointing out that there are more than 700 people on the borough’s allotments waiting list.
Afterwards, she told The Gazette: “I was surprised and thrilled by the result. I expected the council to find a reason to deny what we wanted. But they seemed to embrace the plea from the residents, which was magnificent.”
The site became scrubland after the last allotment closed in 1983. In 2010, a borough council committee voted in favour of up to 40 houses and a 1.4-acre park being created on the site, despite opposition from local residents.
However, last month, the council’s economic prosperity and performance overview and scrutiny committee refused to back the decommissioning of the site from its allotment status, claiming residents had not been properly consulted over future options for the site.
Cllr James said she now plans to meet Cllr Izett to discuss what happens next at the site. Initial proposals include the creation of 96 allotment plots and a community garden.
She said: “I was pleased Cllr Izett said what he did, although I was not surprised as they (the Conservatives) could not decommission it with 700 people on the waiting list. We now have to look at working together.”